The Millions Top Ten: February 2019

March 6, 2019 | 15 books mentioned 1 2 min read

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for February.

This Month Last Month Title On List
1. 4. cover Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
2 months
2. 1. cover Washington Black
6 months
3. 3. cover The Friend
3 months
4. 5. cover Severance
4 months
5. cover Educated: A Memoir
1 month
6. 7. cover The William H. Gass Reader
3 months
7. 6. cover My Year of Rest and Relaxation
4 months
8. 8. cover Milkman
2 months
9. 9. cover Killing Commendatore
5 months
10. cover The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms 1 month

Spring approaches but has not yet come. It brings a fresh start, and all around buds await the best moment to bloom. Naturally, some jump the gun, and so it’s fitting that we welcome two new titles to our final Top Ten of the winter season: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover and The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms, which was edited by Kim Adrian. Even on a list with William H. Gass, snowfall’s poet laureate, there’s no stopping the season’s change.

This timing has its logic. Westover’s memoir was recently named a finalist for the National Book Award. Detailing the author’s journey from backcountry Idaho to Cambridge University, Educated underscores both the propulsive, transformative power of schooling and also the complexity of leaving family behind.

The Shell Game deals as well with transmutation, or in this case so-called “hermit crab essays.” These pieces, as Vivian Wagner explained for our site last summer, “like the creatures they’re named after, borrow the structures and forms they inhabit.” These are essays as quizzes, grocery lists, and more. “Hermit crab essays de-normalize our sense of genre, helping us to see the way that forms and screens, questionnaires and interviews all shape knowledge as much as they convey it,” Wagner writes. “For essays like these, message is always, at least in part, the medium.” (If you’re intrigued, I highly recommend Cheyenne Nimes’s “SECTION 404,” originally published in DIAGRAM, and included in Adrian’s anthology.)

Elsewhere on our list, things thrummed and lightly fiddled. Dreyer’s English rose from fourth to first. The Incendiaries is off to our Hall of Fame. Outside on bare tree branches, some leaves begin to grow.

This month’s near misses included: BecomingTranscription, Circe, and The Practicing StoicSee Also: Last month’s list.

works on special projects for The Millions. He lives in Baltimore and he frequents dive bars. His interests can be followed on his Tumblr, Nick Recommends and Twitter, @nemoran3.

One comment:

  1. Hey, nice writeup, just wanted to mention that the National Book Critics Circle award is not the National Book Award.

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